There were a lot of openly non-religious candidates on ballots across the nation yesterday, but one of the biggest victories got virtually no attention at all.
Megan Hunt, a progressive activist from Nebraska, easily won her race in the state’s 8th District.
While her victory — in a non-partisan race to the state’s unicameral legislature — is something to celebrate if you’re a liberal, the Freethought Equality Fund PAC also notes that she’s an atheist:
Megan Hunt is running for the Nebraska State Senate in District 8. She won the nonpartisan primary on May 15 with 56% of the vote. A small business owner, community activist, mother, and sixth-generation Nebraskan, Hunt has worked in her community to empower girls, end sexual assault and harassment, and advocate for comprehensive sex education. Running because “I don’t see enough leaders who are willing to advocate for forward-looking developments in Nebraska policy,” her policy priorities focus on reducing the brain drain in the state, funding quality public education, reforming the criminal justice system, expanding Medicaid, funding for family planning services, and investing in alternative energy sources for Nebraska. Hunt is an atheist.
That means she’ll be joining Ernie Chambers, the legendary longtime Nebraska state senator, as one of the highest ranking elected atheists in the country. (While there’s one openly non-religious member of Congress, he doesn’t use the word “atheist.”)
A request for comment on her victory, and the symbolism of being one of only a handful of elected atheists in the country, went unanswered as of this writing.
But you should definitely read her closing argument as to why people should vote for her:
You have to feel good when someone like that, whose heart is in the right place, wins a big election.
***Update***: Sen-elect Hunt issued this statement to me this afternoon:
I respect the right of every person to subscribe to any faith or belief, because I know that what matters is your actions and your values, not your religious affiliation. Voters everywhere are frustrated by hypocrisy in leadership, and I think that the tendency of lawmakers to stand behind their faith (or their political party) as a substitute for growing a spine and having moral courage is a big part of that frustration. All people have the right to live with dignity and to be treated equally under the law. I look forward to joining a team of lawmakers in the Unicameral to work toward that goal and help improve economic sustainability, quality of life, and civil rights here in Nebraska.
Senator Chambers is a living legend, and Nebraska needs more outspoken public servants like him who refuse to serve a system built from the inheritances of racism and social injustice. Nebraskans are lucky to have been influenced by his leadership.
(Image via Facebook)